I'm walking the show floor aisle-by-aisle, checking out the courses, and watching the live demos at the Embedded Systems Conference, and I love it. Why? Is it because the event is produced by my company (TechInsights)? Is it because I have now replenished my supply of pens, coasters, luggage tags, and other small gadgets? Is it because I am meeting many colleagues I haven't seen in a while? Is it because there is a lot of analog content?
It's a trick question: the correct answer is “none of the above,” or perhaps it is “maybe a little of all of the above.” The reason I like going to ESC is that it's about real engineering and real products, at so many levels. Sure, there are the larger exhibits from major vendors, but there are also so many basic small booths from independent vendors. The entire ecosystem of design and engineering is visible. You have vendors of development kits, single-board computers, debug tools, operating systems (real time and not), ruggedized software are hardware, test and evaluation tools, sockets and chassis, and all of the pieces that projects require. They approach the world of engineering design and its challenges from various perspectives, to match different applications, user needs, budgets, and requirements.
But best of all, there is no dominant force, player, framework, processor, or software at ESC. While big companies are here, there are also many vendors who are obviously relatively small operations. That's more that Ok, that's great. They come to ESC because they believe that they offer a piece of the puzzle that will fill a niche, solve a problem, or make the design , development, or debug process a little easier for the prospective user. They are here to compete in the open marketplace of ideas and innovation and deliverables, to put it simply.
Unlike the media-hyped events such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where the emphasis seems to be mostly on getting media attention, strutting your stuff, or wheeling and dealing, ESC is about the core factors of design and engineering. Its audience is not the media-hype world, where the more offbeat, outrageous, noisy, glitzy, expensive, and even trivial your product, the more likely it is to get noticed—and being noticed is all that seems to count (it's that “15 minutes of fame” mindset, to paraphrase Andy Warhol). The ESC audience is there to get better at getting their job done; the exhibitors and presenters are there to help make that happen. It's not just an embedded systems conference. From my perspective, it's a true engineering systems conference as well.